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Why People Develop Phobias

Why People Develop Phobias

Many people may laugh off phobias, but these conditions extend beyond simply fear.

A phobia is an overwhelming and irrational fear of things or situations that don’t actually pose any threats or dangers. For instance, a person with arachnophobia, a severe fear of spiders, may get overwrought when they see, touch, or even think of spiders. Unfortunately, phobias often provoke anxiety and panic attacks, but there are ways of dealing with anxiety without turning to drugs or alcohol. Specific phobias are the most common forms of anxiety disorders, but not all require treatment.

Although these disorders have always existed, have you ever wondered why people develop phobias? Our drug and alcohol treatment center in Chicago decided to find out.

Most Common Types of Phobias

While everyone has something they’re afraid of (or at least have a healthy respect for), phobias take it several steps further. Although many may agree that certain situations are generally unpleasant, there are common phobias related to things and situations you may have never thought of.

Common phobias include:

  • Social phobias

People will avoid social situations because they feel extremely self-conscious around others.

  • Agoraphobia

While agoraphobia specifically refers to a fear of open spaces, people with this anxiety disorder may be afraid of specific places.

  • Claustrophobia

This condition refers to the fear of enclosed spaces. People with this fear may feel as if the walls are closing in on them whenever they’re in small or tight spaces.

  • Pteromerhanophobia

This phobia refers to the fear of flying, often associated with a fear of heights and airplanes as well.

  • Entomophobia

This refers to the fear of insects. Many people are understandably terrified of creepy crawlies.

What Causes Phobias to Develop?

While there aren’t specific causes of phobias that can be pinpointed, there are general theories that may explain why people develop phobias.

Some possible causes of phobias include:

  • Traumatic Experience

Someone who was bitten by a spider when they were younger may develop arachnophobia (fear of spiders).

  • Learned Behavior

We pick up many of our behaviors from our parents and other people we spend time with as we grow up. These factors often influence our likes and dislikes when we’re older, including our fears. A child who witnessed their mother’s fear of insects may develop entomophobia.

  • Response to Fear

If you respond intensely to a certain situation, you may feel embarrassed about your reaction if it happens in front of others. This can cause you to develop anxiety about reacting to this particular situation in the future.

  • Genetics

Many studies suggest that phobias are often the result of an innate survival instinct that is rooted in man’s past fears and reactions.

  • Cultural Influence

A person’s culture may also contribute to their phobia. For example, respect, manners, and politeness are important aspects of Japanese culture. Thus, social phobias are common among Japanese people; they may fear embarrassment or potentially offending someone in a social situation.

  • Stress

Stress always negatively impacts the state of your mental health, contributing to anxiety, and even eliciting a panic attack. It can also prevent you from properly coping with certain situations. Stress can leave you vulnerable to heightened emotional responses, allowing phobias to take root.

Fears are pretty normal. Many people fear at least one thing or situation, and that’s okay. When a phobia begins to disrupt your life, however, it becomes a problem. If your phobia prevents you from fulfilling your responsibilities or taking care of yourself, then you may need help. At Banyan Treatment Centers Chicago, we offer cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety that addresses thought patterns such as those associated with irrational fears. A person with a phobia or anxiety disorder can benefit from this treatment and get the help they need.

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental illness or addiction, call us today at 888-280-4763 for more information about our programs, including dual diagnosis treatment in Chicago.

Related Readings:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety & Addiction

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
Why People Develop Phobias
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